NEW DELHI (REUTERS) – Indians poured onto social media on Friday (Feb 15) to vent their fury over a suicide bombing in Kashmir, with many of them calling for swift retribution against Pakistan as TV news shows hosted jingoistic debates.
India’s government said it had “incontrovertible evidence”of Pakistani involvement in Thursday’s killing of 44 paramilitary police – though that was quickly denied by Islamabad.
Tapping a groundswell of anger before a general election due by May, some of the most prominent members of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joined the condemnations online.
“We are all very angry over the terror attack in Kashmir and the deaths of our soldiers,” tweeted Mr Swapan Dasgupta, a BJP-backed member of India’s Upper House of Parliament.
“But just remember: revenge is a dish best served cold. Our moment will come,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself warned Pakistan to expect a strong response to the attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir, ratcheting up tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Billionaire Sajjan Jindal, managing director of JSW Steel Ltd, called for a special session of Parliament to scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants Kashmir special status and allows the state to make its own laws.
“We have to now make sure that the world knows that they can’t mess with us. #India cannot be threatened! We move decisively when anyone attacks us in any way!” said Mr Jindal.
Top officials from the opposition Congress party said the nation should quietly mourn the killing of the police officers without trying to politicise the issue.
And the Hindustan Times newspaper warned against warmongering.
“The government’s temptation – especially in an election year – will be to go for a muscular response to avenge the killings, but it must weigh its options and choose with care,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
But the condemnation kept pouring in over Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
“Kashmir and its full-fledged recovery, both territorial and peace restoration, should be the only issue in this 2019 LS election. Ask for a mandate for it,” Harvard-educated economist Subramanian Swamy, a lawmaker from the BJP, said referring to the next general election and India’s Lower House of parliament (or Lok Sabha, as it is known in Hindi).
To unify Kashmir, India would have to invade Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
Several Twitter users used hash tags such as #PulwamaRevenge, #RIPBraveHearts and #PhulwamaTerrorAttack to call on Mr Modi to launch an attack on Pakistan to avenge the killing.
In a message addressed to Mr Modi, Twitter user @aman05garg1 said: “Honourable Sir, I wish you the greetings of the day! I am going to vote your government for rest of my life if another surgical strike happens in your current reign.”
In 2016, Mr Modi had ordered a surgical strike on suspected militant camps across the border in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
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